Menace of the Mosquito
Posted: Saturday, December 13th, 2008 | Posted by: Ashish Rao | Views: 23855
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The Malaria Control programe in Mangalore City has been on for more than a decade now. But the results are not as expected. The program which was aimed at educating and creating an awareness amongst the public regarding spread and control of the disease has been hit by a road block by the very authorities conducting it. Till 1990 Malaria was non existant, doctors would just ignore diagnosing cases of  malaria if fever and chills were the symptoms. Those were days when Filaria was more  common.
After 1995 the cases began rising and Mangalore began becoming more infested with cases of malaria. More deaths due to Malaria were also found. This was the time when the district administration called a meeting of the eminent medical personnel and initiaited a community effort in eradciating the deadly disease. Ward committees were formed and operations such as collection of data were streamlined. Doctors had formulated a treatment guideline for dealing with severe cases of malaria. The committee also began meeting the hoteliers and builders to educate them about the ill- effects of stagnating water stored during curing process of the buildings. This strategy seemed to be working. By 2000 the number of cases were brought down from 15,000 to 2000. But then this was not to last long. Logistical problems began to occur after few years of the start of the program.
After two years of forming the ward committees they stopped functioning. Malaria is a disease which has a cyclical tendency. It sees a dip and rise every ten years of its existance. As the number of cases went up by 2003 the entire program was reorganized. The Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) has certain tasks which it had to perform in order to effectively eradicate the disease. For this it had made 12 teams with one Junior Health Assistant , sprayer and helper in each team. They visit the houses of various wards , construction sites , hotels , ashrams and hostels. If any cases of fever are found it is immediately sent to the lab for a test. If found positive then treatement is given the same day. Places with stagnant water are sprayed with abate outdoor chemical for inside the houses , K-Othrine is sprayed. Surveyers are supposed to go to individual wards and give equipments in respective labs. But most of the times , the officials do not reach the wards are mostly ill equipped. Right now in Mangalore Corportion limits , there are around 220 contructions going on. These are high risk areas as breeding of mosquitoe larvae happen here. Private labs send in their reports to the malaria control cell at the corporation. This is done only once a week. Once it is received , a contact smear is conducted after which a 6-day follow up is also done. These figures are collected and submitted to the District Malaria Office. But when these figures are submitted , there is inaccuracy of data and misrepresentation. One of the biggest challenges the MCC faces is that of convincing the patients to use the facility provided by the labs of the corporation. Most people prefer to go and get tests done in private labs located in many places across the city. This makes  facility provided by the Corporation go waste. Despite all this the number of cases of malaria  have gone down . From 1092 cases in January 2007 it has reduced to 499. In December 2008 the number has reduced to 433 from 873 last year in the same month. Although the Corporation has done its bit in campaigning for a malaria free city through stickers, mass education programs and other activities the citizens have not taken preventive measures seriously. Tyres are still thrown around the house premises and overhead tanks have water collection in their corners and give rise to breeding grounds.
One of the main responsibilities of the MCC is to take action and keep a vigil on builders who are violating the Malaria Control guidelines established to keep a check on buildings which are supposed to follow rules to prevent malaria mosquito breeding. The Corporationís Malaria Control Cell sends its authorities to check the buildings and if the authorities find that builders are violating rules , they conveniently ignore them. In some cases , they even take bribes from the builders , who talk their way through to the authorities. If asked , the authorities claim that they have issued notices to the builders. But the irony of the situation is that mere issuing of notices will not stop the breeding of mosquitoes and thus a more disciplined and morally clean action force needs to be developed in the MCC in order for effective eradication of Malaria. Another effective but poorly followed step in stopping the disease is the use of guppy fish in wells. These fish eat out the larvae and thus control mosquito breeding. But the public inspite of knowing this do not take the initiative in getting fish and dropping them into the wells. It is common mentality that the corporation must fulfill the feeding of guppy fish into the wells. Unless this careless attitude remains any measures taken by the MCC or the Malaria Control Action Committee will not be effective. Another issue ignored by the MCC are the overhead tanks of private homes. Although they spot house owners violating rules, they stop at issuing notices to the house owners. Further action is not taken. The MCC has in its capacity to enact its power and use its administrative skills to effectively implement the malaria prevention program but is barely exercising this. Secondly , unless the community comes forward and takes initiaitive in following the necessary steps malaria is here to stay. Thirdly it must be made public knowledge that fever , for a few days more must not be ignored as it may be a case of malaria. Malaria control also has another challenge in the nature of the parasite itself. Due to its own resistenace , the parasite has developed an immunity to the drugs used to combat malaria. Hence the National Vector Borne Disease Control Board has suggested a modified vector treatement plan.
The Malaria prevention program is effectively planned but poor implementation and lack of proper leadership and sincerity on the part of the Corporation Officials has led to the existence of the parasite and the disease. Unless this human weakness is not eradicated , the disease will continue to remain strong.
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useful info! malaria menace has struck mangalore repeatedly. I think its the responsibility of the builders, people and the municipality. we cant blame the government alone for the problem. the threat of the malaria parasite developing immunity is extremely discomforting, and alarming as it means more expensive drugs which the poor can ill afford, and more taxing it becomes for the afflicted person to combat the deadly disease!
Posted By: K, Sunday, January 04th, 2009